Enthusiastic Twitter users are the 1% of Australian social media users, according to new data from Essential Research.

Last week Crikey asked Essential to survey social media usage and online gaming. Given Essential is an online poll and the sample group is already online, the results may understate the number of voters who use no platforms at all, but the results indicate clearly what different groups in Australia prefer to use to keep in touch.

Just 1% of voters nominate Twitter as the social media or communications platform they use the most. Email remains the most dominant communications tool, with 37% of voters saying it was the social media or communications type they used the most. Facebook is next, at 33%, then SMS. While 1.8 million Australians were estimated to be on Twitter earlier this year, it remains a supplementary platform for most users.

There are some significant gender splits in the figures. Men are generally less interested in social media than women, and prefer email, whereas Facebook is easily the dominant platform for more women than any other. Older people prefer email over new communications platforms, whereas Facebook is again easily the dominant platform among under-35s. Facebook was also more popular among lower-income earners.

Labor and Coalition voters were virtually indistinguishable in their social media usage but Greens voters differed markedly: they were more likely to use SMS as their main form of communication, and less likely to use email.

Thirty seven per cent of Australians also play online games either via PCs or through consoles such as XBox 360 and Playstation, Essential found. Most play less than 10 hours a week, with 25% saying they played online less than that amount. More males (40%) than females (33%) played online, but hardcore gamers were split evenly — 2% of men and women reported playing more than 30 hours a week.

Non-participation in online gaming increases consistently with age — 50% of under-25s report not playing games, but 75% of over-65s. But 35-44-year-olds had twice as many hardcore gamers, at 4%, although even 2% of over-65s reported spending more than 30 hours a week playing online. Greens voters were more likely to say they didn’t play online games at all.

*Disclosure: Bernard Keane is an enthusiastic, indeed logorrheaic, Twitter user